UK weather: Hottest March day for 53 years as temperatures top 24C, Met Office announces

Temperatures in central London only slightly behind hottest-ever March figure, say meteorologists

Sam Hancock
Tuesday 30 March 2021 18:40 BST
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UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

The UK has recorded its warmest March day in 53 years after temperatures rose above 24C on Tuesday, according to the Met Office.

St James’ Park, central London, hit 24.2C by mid-afternoon, which is only slightly behind the UK’s hottest ever March temperature of 25.6C – recorded in 1968 in Cambridge.

The Met Office tweeted on Tuesday morning there would be “exceptional warmth” and “massive” temperature contrasts as this month comes to a close. It comes as coronavirus lockdown restrictions begin to ease, with more people allowed to get together outdoors.

Outside of the capital, temperatures increased by more than 20C in less than four hours in Santon Downham, west Suffolk, earlier in the day.

The small village saw the mercury climb from -1.6C at 7am to 19C shortly before 11am.

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Temperatures were forecast to hit 24C again on Wednesday in parts of London, but police have already urged people heading to beaches and parks across the country to stick to Covid-19 guidelines as lockdown officially eases.

“Easing of lockdown. Let’s take this next step safely,” the Metropolitan Police tweeted.

A group of friends open a bottle of fizz at Battersea Park

As of Monday, the rule of six returned in England, meaning that a maximum of six people can now gather in outdoor spaces for walks or picnics. A new household rule also came into place, whereby a maximum of two households can gather, with no limit on the numbers.

The country’s stay-at-home rule officially ended on 29 March too, bringing thousands of people out to relish the sunshine while it lasts.

Images captured on Monday and Tuesday show hundreds of Londoners relaxing in parks with friends and family they may not have seen for months.

UK weather over the next few days

  • Wednesday: another warm day in England and Wales, with temperatures expected to reach 24C in London, though rain returns in Northern Ireland and Scotland
  • Thursday: temperatures will begin to drop across the UK, although London will continue to experience some highs of 17C
  • Friday and Easter weekend: temperatures will begin to level off as the Bank Holiday gets underway, with rain expected to follow in much of south and east England at the beginning of next week

In Nottingham, though, police have said they will now seize alcohol from those entering parks due to scenes on Monday where dozens of people broke social distancing measures to gather in the city’s arboretum and left piles of rubbish behind at the end of the day.

A dispersal order was issued, with Chief Constable Steve Cooper reminding residents “that we are still only partly out of lockdown measures”.

St James’s Park was bustling with people as temperatures reached near-record highs

“This week has seen the easing of some of the restrictions but we are still required to keep our distance from each other and only mix with one other household outdoors, up to six people,” he said following the incident.

Chief meteorologist Steve Ramsdale said: “The UK will see a few days of notably warm weather to end March, with a maximum of 24C on Wednesday in the south and east of England.

“There will also be plenty of sunshine across England and Wales, however parts of Scotland will see some persistent rain over the next couple of days.

England began to further ease its coronavirus lockdown on 29 March, spurred by rapid vaccinations

“Conditions will start to change through the day on Thursday as cooler air moves in from the northeast, highs will fall to the mid-teens before falling further by Friday, especially along the east coast.”

He added: “With pressure building from the north however, conditions are expected to remain dry for the majority.”

Monday had been the warmest day of the year so far for England and Northern Ireland, with temperatures reaching 20.4C and 17.3C respectively.

Mr Ramsdale said cold air would push across the UK by Sunday, bringing a “notable” change in temperature and the chance of strong wind and wintry showers.

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